Tuesday, July 27, 2010

McWane presentations - Fiji REU

On Saturday, July 25th, students who participated in the 2010 Fiji REU presented some of their research to children and parents at the McWane Science Center in Birmingham, AL.

The students prepared posters and hands-on activities for the children in order to teach them about Fijian culture.

Ben Knox, Lindsay Whiteaker, and Helena Corzan presented on Fijian music and dance. They helped the children dress up in traditional costume and taught them a meke (dance) they had learned during their time in Fiji.

Anna McCown, Courtney Andrews, and Mallory Messersmith taught the children about the importance of studying a culture's garbage, and what trash can tell us about the people who discarded those items. Children played a game in which they tried to match rubbish items with people from Fijian and American cultures.

Christel Carlisle, Ashley Wilson, and Caitlin Aamodt presented on the effects of natural disasters such as cyclones on the Fijian islands. They designed a board game in which children made choices that determined how well they would have weathered a cyclone in Fiji.

National Science Foundation REU Fiji 2010

The second year of UAB's National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates in Fiji fieldschool has come to a close! The Fiji REU program engages students in interdisciplinary problem based research, exploring long-term dynamics in human interaction with the environment. Project participants learn about anthropology (the study of humans and culture) as well as historical ecology, a discipline focused on the relationships between people and both physical and biological environments. In the context of various study areas in Fiji’s Lau Island Group, students and faculty engage in meaningful scientific research incorporating the methods of anthropology and ecology.

Helena Corzan surveys the post-cyclone landscape during a hike.

While last year's REU focused primarily on archaeological methods of investigation, this year's fieldschool took an ethnographic approach. Students investigated such topics as: foodways and cooking, education, adolescence and gender roles, music, adaptation to western culture, place names, oral histories, and kinship. Students also learned to utilize different methods of ethnographic research while adapting to the unique stresses of fieldwork.

Christel Carlisle helping to prepare a Fijian lunch in the bure.

Courtney Andrews, Mallory Messersmith, and Anna McCown analyzing data for their project involving indigenous and imported rubbish.

For more information (along with more photos, posters, and lesson plans), visit the Fiji REU's website.